WITH the celebration of the Solemnity of Christâ€™s baptism, we end the Christmas season and enter the Ordinary Time of the liturgical calendar. It is a good occasion to remind ourselves that we should try to make our prayer and our whole spiritual life follow the liturgical calendar.
Doing so would help us to unite ourselves with Christ in a living if sacramental way. Letâ€™s always remember that our life is not anymore just our own. It becomes life with Christ who remains present, available and actively continuing his redemptive work and dispensing its merits to us in the liturgy.
The celebration, of course, commemorates Christâ€™s baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist where a voice from heaven was heard: â€œYou are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.â€ (Lk 3,22) This declares Christ to be both the Son of God and our Redeemer.
Itâ€™s a historic event pregnant with very important implications. With no need to be baptized, he had himself baptized, even insisting on it, to institute the sacrament of baptism which is the gateway for us to Christian life, to incorporate us into the mystical body of Christ.
With baptism, we open ourselves to the possibility of receiving all the other sacraments that fully satisfy our spiritual needs with the view of attaining our salvation and our eternal life with God our Father.
We have to understand then that our life has to revolve around the sacraments that serve to build it up and make it Christâ€™s life as well. As the Catechism puts it, all the sacraments form one organic whole, and they â€œtouch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life.â€ (1210)
Also, we have to understand that of the seven sacraments, the â€œEucharist occupies a unique place as the â€˜sacrament of sacraments.â€™ All the other sacraments are ordered to it as to their end.â€ (1211)
Some spiritual writers have also considered Christâ€™s baptism as his second birth. The first one was with Mary, quite hidden and known only to a few shepherds and mysteriously to three magi who came from a far country. This second one highlights the fact that Christ is the Son of God and presents him to the world as such.
St. Maximus of Turin, for example, has the following relevant words to say: â€œAt Christmas he was born a man. Today (his baptism) he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin.Â Today he is born in mysteryâ€¦The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore. The Father reveals that his Son is to be worshipped by all the nations.â€
Yes, Christâ€™s baptism also marks the transition of Christâ€™s hidden life, consisting of more or less 30 years of doing ordinary things daily, to his public life when he would start going around preaching and healing and ultimately offering his life on the cross.
To be sure, the life of Christ is perfectly one and consistent, thoroughly redemptive in character both in his human and divine natures, and also in his hidden and public life. The distinctions do not divide Christ since all these distinctions are held in one divine person as subject.
This truth about Christ should somehow be reflected in our own lives. We are human, yes, but we are meant for a divine destination since we are Godâ€™s image and likeness, adopted children of his. With Godâ€™s grace, this blend, so to speak, is made possible.
Also, our personal, hidden life should not undermine the public life that is also meant for us since we are social beings. We have need for privacy, for discretion and confidentiality, but all these should not be made as an excuse to avoid our social duties and responsibilities.
We should not be afraid to go public, so to speak, to give witness to our faith which is not something to be held only personally but also collectively. We just have to make sure that our â€œpublic lifeâ€ should not be an occasion to seek human glory, but only for Godâ€™s glory and for the good of all.
This will be our constant danger, and therefore we need to rectify our intentions continually and see to it that the means we use for giving witness to our faith in public are in keeping with the purpose of simply giving glory to God and for the common good.
But all the precautions we need for this should never be an excuse for us not to give public witness of our faith, especially in areas where Christ is forgotten or deliberately deleted, and that, unfortunately, is practically everywhere!Â (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)